Kevin Hellriegel's Blog of Worthless Advice

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Category Archives: Real estate

 President’s Day/Mid-Winter Break in Chelan

In the greater Puget Sound area, a fair number of the private and public schools have the President’s Day week off. No one knows for sure why we take a whole week off (considering we just had two weeks off around Christmas and New Year’s Day).   I use to hate having another week off so soon after Christmas, but I have grown to love it over the years.  The hustle and bustle of Christmas is over, which makes this week a good break for vacation trips.  Airfare prices arent too bad and it seems only our local schools do the “Mid-Winter” Break.

The past few years, we have gone to Hawaii (Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island), California.  This year, my daughter is doing club volleyball and my son is doing a college program during his senior year so a family trip wasn’t going to happen. My son still has classes this week, while my daughter doesn’t.  So no out of town, flyaway trips for us.

This year, we did manage to get away to Lake Chelan.  We traded overcast, rainy skies for snow and gray skies.  The drive over was decent; roads and highways were wet and snow free.


As you can see from the photos, the lake appeared, disappeared, and then reappeared.

Then on a drive up to look at a piece of property, the clouds rolled in and went from blue skies to thick clouds (or fog) conditions.

Uh, the road is somewhere out there.


During the winter, the towns of Chelan and Manson slow down. Some of the businesses are mostly the summer type, catering to the tourist families from the west side of the Cascade mountains and stay open during summer months only.  In the winter, the local wineries and their tasting rooms switch to the Friday-Saturday-Sunday limited hours schedule due to the slowdown in suburban mom traffic.  As an example, a few weeks back when my wife and I came to Chelan, we were the only ones at the Benson Vibeyard/Winery’s tasting room.  A nice quiet afternoon to enjoy the view and a bottle of red wine.

Overall, Chelan and Manson are both great getaway locations.  Lots of wineries, a bowling alley, a few pizza and burger joints await the hardy visitor.  Snowshoe or cross country ski in the morning, do a few wine tastings in the afternoon, head out to dinner, and cap it all off with a night of bowling.  What could be more fun?

Someone is having a bad day—U-Haul crashes into Historic Seattle Landmark

Sometimes you just want to move your belongings from one place to another.  These poor folks decided to take their U-Haul moving truck through the beautiful Seattle Arboretum.  Why not?  It’s a short cut, it’s a nice drive, and what could go wrong?  Click on the link to KOMO news (one of our local broadcast news channels).

I’m hoping they opted for the “extra insurance coverage”.  I know your regular auto insurance usually covers small accidents but most of us have deductibles ranging from $100 to $1000.  The one time I opted for the additional coverage when I rented a moving van (14 years ago), it was worth it.  It was a small additional charge that covered EVERYTHING.  I managed to scrap a long line in the wood deck of the Public Storage moving van and they wanted to charge me for it.  It was a moving van and it was normal wear and tear.  Then the guy saw I had opted for the additional coverage and said I didn’t have to worry about it.

If you think about it, unless you are a commercial truck driver and use to a large vehicle, it makes sense to get the extra coverage and talk with your insurance coverage before you rent the truck.  Sure, it is cool you are moving from your parents’ basement into an overpriced apartment near Green Lake, but you need to cover yourself.  Think how this poor guy’s weekend is now ruined.

Click on the link below to check out more photos.

http://komonews.com/news/local/u-haul-truck-crashes-into-historic-seattle-landmark

Vacation Post: Chelan, Washington

It has taken me a few days to get out of work mode and into vacation mode.  We are staying about 3.5 hours (driving time) from our house which results in hotter weather with clear blue skies.  As you have probably gathered from past blog posts, the western Washington area is usually cloudy, wet, and cool (55-65 degrees F).  However, once you drive over Snoqulamie Pass and enter the eastern side of the state, you get hot, dry desert weather.  We now have high 80s to low 90s, clear blue skies.  Did I mention blue skies?  Yeah, we can see the sun here.

Now, summer is the best time to be in Seattle because the cloudy skies are really now blue skies.  The weather is good.  The new channel is teasing us with reports of sunshine and temperatures of 70-80.

The Lake Chelan area is beautiful.  It use to be just apple orchard country, mixed in with some cherries, and then a sprinkle of vacation condo resorts (lots of timeshares here).  Over the past 15 years, Chelan has added about 23 wineries and more tourist activities such as ziplines, jet skis and boat rentals, etc.  There is a great and affordable family waterslide park called “Slidewaters”.  Great local pizza joints and hamburger places.  Heck, and there is sunshine every darn day!

300 days of sunshine…you can’t complain about that especially when it comes with a 55 miles long lake with clear blue water.

Long Beach, Washington – Father’s Day 2016

On Sunday, my son, his friend, and I made a quick trip to Long Beach, Washington to create some drone video footage and take some drone photos.  The last time I was in Long Beach was with the family for a short lunch stop so I was pleased to have the opportunity to visit again and stay a bit longer.

The weather was perfect for enjoying Long Beach.  Clear blue skies and a bright sun for us however, it was very windy.  Long Beach is know for its excellent kite flying conditions.  Plenty of wind on Sunday and Monday if you like kite flying, seagulls, and assorted windy day activities.

We stayed in Jazzy’s Crab Shack Link to Jazzy’s Crab Shack and it was great for the three of us.  Two bedrooms and a queen hide away bed in the living room area, two bathrooms, dining room area, plus a well stocked kitchen with a breakfast nook.  The vacation cottage was very clean and looked like it is well maintained by the owners.

Monday’s weather was a bit more cloudy but the wind was about the same.  After driving around the area a bit, you realize that the beach is pretty far away.  It is wide and (of course) it is long (hence the name “Long Beach”).  In Washington State, you can drive on the beach (in certain areas).

The visit was short but still fun.  Hopefully, when you get the chance to visit Long Beach, the weather will be warm and sunny for your visit.

 

 

 

 

Whoa! Dropping some Acid in the Garden

Don’t worry; this isn’t a journey into the mind of a drug user or a bad acid trip.   

 It’s about killing those pesky weeds in your garden, flower beds, and yard by using our household pal Vinegar.  Tired of spending your hard earned dollars on expensive, commercial chemical weed killers?  Try using vinegar to kill those unwanted weeds.

Why vinegar?  Vinegar is a natural weed killer you can use in your yard without worrying about killing off your pets or kids.  It is inexpensive, non-toxic, fast acting, and doesn’t cause long term damage to the soil.  It works best on warm, dry days. I know finding those days here in the Seattle area might be tough, but when they do come, whip out that spray bottle of vinegar and kill those weeds!
I have my own special receipe that I use to make a custom weed killer.

-Quart of vinegar

-1/4 cup of salt

-1/4 tablespoon of table salt

I usually mix this up in a quart spray bottle I purchased from the local grocery store. Shake it a few times and now you are ready to kill the weeds.

Keep in mind, that this natural weed killer is non-selective.  It will also kill your grass, flowers, and other plants you love. Be careful when you are spraying.

Some weeds, I will cut down and then spray the remaining stump of the weed with my natural weed killer.  This is very effective for dandilions. 

It is easy, cheap, and non toxic. Good luck and enjoy!

Whoa! Dropping some Acid in the Garden

Don’t worry; this isn’t a journey into the mind of a drug user or a bad acid trip.   

 It’s about killing those pesky weeds in your garden, flower beds, and yard by using our household pal Vinegar.  Tired of spending your hard earned dollars on expensive, commercial chemical weed killers?  Try using vinegar to kill those unwanted weeds.

Why vinegar?  Vinegar is a natural weed killer you can use in your yard without worrying about killing off your pets or kids.  It is inexpensive, non-toxic, fast acting, and doesn’t cause long term damage to the soil.  It works best on warm, dry days. I know finding those days here in the Seattle area might be tough, but when they do come, whip out that spray bottle of vinegar and kill those weeds!
I have my own special receipe that I use to make a custom weed killer.

-Quart of vinegar

-1/4 cup of salt

-1/4 tablespoon of table salt

I usually mix this up in a quart spray bottle I purchased from the local grocery store. Shake it a few times and now you are ready to kill the weeds.

Keep in mind, that this natural weed killer will also kill your grass, flowers, and other plants you love. Be careful when you are spraying.

It is easy, cheap, and non toxic. Good luck and enjoy!

I put Cocaine on my Roof….

I live in the Pacific Northwest (Seattle area) and it is damp and rainy here about 97% of the time.  Perhaps, that is not entirely true but we have 226 cloudy days (4th most in the United States) and another 81 partly cloudy days.  Now, I’m not a math genius but that’s a lot in anyone’s book.

So we have a moss problem on our roofs.  I mentioned to my friend that the moss build up on my roof looked awful and I need to go buy some moss killer at the local hardware store.  He suggested to me, use baking soda.  It’s natural and you just put it on the top ridgeline of the roof when the roof is dry.  The rain comes and gently washes it down your roof and kills the moss.  The moss dies, and you can sweep off the dead moss or use your leaf blower to blow it into your neighbor’s yard.

image1 (2)

Who wants to cook their minds?

At Costco, I purchased a huge bag (13.5 pound bag) of Arm and Hammer baking soda for about $7.  I have a fairly large roof so I dumped about ¾ of the bag on it.  I went along the top of the roof ridge with a line on each side of the tip so the baking soda would be washed down both sides of the roof.  My son mentioned it looked like lines of cocaine on my roof.  Thanks son!  My daughter commented it looked ghetto (sweet!  I love to be “that” house in the neighborhood).  I’m always striving to be that house that stands out amongst its neighbors!

The end result:  Moss is dead and I’ve swept most of it off.  The white lines are disappearing and can be easily washed off or swept away if they don’t disappear on their own.

image2

Die moss….die.

Hold On…I’m busy designing my vacation home!

Sure, not everyone has the time to design an amazing vacation home like I do. But then again, most people have real jobs and work for a company that wants them to produce a measurable amount of productive work. I, on the other hand, am a slave to myself and, frankly, my own worst nightmare as a boss.  I show up late, watch funny cat videos (with my co-worker Mr. Whiskers), and drink on the job (while operating heavy machinery). Well, if you count my desktop as heavy machinery….

So you can imagine how I quickly jumped onto the chance to read a recent article from The Washington Post titled “Three Tips to Avoid Headaches when designing a vacation home”.  I won’t ruin the article for you but the first tip is to be wealthy enough to afford a vacation home you can design.  That wasn’t one of the tips but it should have been because who has a the time and money for a vacation home?

Now, I have designed numerous vacation homes in my mind, and have even made drawings in my sketchbook (of lost hopes and broken dreams) so that I don’t forget my ideas. My designs vary from the recycled 20 foot ocean crossing storage container home, to the midrange 1000 SF cabin, to the 5,000 trilevel overlooking Lake Chelan.  In fact, half of my future vacation home will be a “man cave” in the style of industrial chic while the other half will be whatever my wife wants. Really, we both have to live there together so I have to be sure to make her happy.  Because we know if she isn’t happy, then I won’t be happy.

My next thought is: Is this a “vacation” home or my “retirement” home?  Are they one in the same?  Because I basically hate people, I would like a home out in the middle of nowhere.  A small town or city feel to it.   I really don’t want to be social.  One other idea: I’d like to have an outbuilding that is a simple Japanese style dojo. Which then makes me wonder if I should have a home with a courtyard in it and thus more in the style of an Asian country home. 

As an introvert, living in a rural setting would suit me fine.  Yes, I do like to hang out with dear friends so my vacation home will need a few guest bedrooms. Or better yet, cottages for guest to visit.

In the meantime, I’ll work and see if I can’t finish the rest of my working career.

Loon Lake Vacation: A week of our family together and we didn’t kill each other!

Loon Lake Vacation: A week of our family together and we didn’t kill each other!

This summer, instead of spending a week on the Oregon Coast, our family went to Loon Lake in Eastern Washington.  Sure, it isn’t Southern California with Disneyland but I wanted to go somewhere to read a book, play some board games, swim, canoe, and just plain relax.

Eagle on our lawn!

To be honest, I have never been to Loon Lake but with the handy dandy internet it appeared to be a good choice. 

Where the heck is Loon Lake?  Loon Lake is about 26 miles north of the city of Spokane and an easy drive north from the downtown Spokane area on U.S. Highway 395.  As I said before, we have never been to Loon Lake but I did do some research on the internet, asked a few friends (who where from the Spokane area), and it turned out to be a good choice.  We rented a house right on Loon Lake with the thought that we would have another family come with us.  As it turned out, no one else could make it (or maybe they just didn’t want to spend a week with me?).  Nevertheless, we had a nice family vacation with just the four of us.

The other bonus (of Loon Lake) was our mobile phones didn’t work (no cell signal) and we had no wi-fi/internet at the house we had rented.  We were disconnected and it was very nice to be out of the loop.  No Facebook, no Google searches, no email; just books to read, games to play, canoes to paddle, and a warm lake to swim in.

Our house was located on the east shore of Loon Lake so we had a sunset to admire every night.  The weather was a mix of sunshine, rain, and thunderstorms.  We had some awesome lightening storms a few nights while we were at Loon Lake.

The wildlife around Loon Lake is abundant.  We had a bald eagle that landed on our lawn with a huge fish one morning, lots of ducks, loons, etc.  The fishing is Loon Lake is supposed to be very good as well.  They stock it with silver salmon in the spring and our neighbor mentioned several other kinds of fish.  I’m not much of a fisherman, so I didn’t pay too much attention to the list of fish mentioned.

One drawback to our vacation house was the lake was a bit shallow off our beach and dock area.  You could swim but it took a while for you to get to a deep enough spot to swim.  It was only five feet deep 50-75 yards off our beach and it was very mucky (if you put your feet down and tried to touch the bottom).  If we come back to Loon Lake, I would like to have a vacation house with a beach with a steeper slope and less muck off the beach.Loon Lake house

We brought a canoe and this allowed us to paddle out to a swim dock (that one of our neighbors had anchored in deeper water).  We had a great time jumping off the float and swimming in the deeper water.  In August, the Loon Lake water is very clear and warm.  It was warm enough that I wish I had brought along my snorkel gear; I’m sure I would have enjoyed myself for a few hours swimming around.

Loon Lake is a fairly large lake at 1,100 acres.  It is about 2 miles long and 1 mile wide with a depth of 100 feet at its deepest point.  You will see jet skis and water ski boats driving around, but it wasn’t too busy during the week we stayed.  I wasn’t annoyed by the noise and most of the time; you can’t hear a ski boat on the other side of the lake.  I’m not sure that Loon Lake has a public boat launch or a public beach.  Perhaps the lack of a public boat launch keeps the crazy boaters off the lake?

loon Lake, Washington

If we come back to Loon Lake next summer, we will most likely come a week or two earlier in the month of August and look for a smaller cabin/house if it just the four of us again.  The house was too large for us.  We will look for a smaller house, maybe one with a hot tub.  We would also be nice to have a water ski boat (but I haven’t been waterskiing for about 18 years or longer).  Or some loud jet skis!  So if you have either, you are already invited for next summer’s Loon Lake vacation.

TV Show: Hawaii Life – four more episodes!

Ah, a piece of paradise!

Ah, a piece of paradise!

The new TV season of the show “Hawaii Life” has started and we have been catching up with old episodes.  The last four episodes (we have watched) have featured two property searches on the Big Island and two property searches on Kauai.  You’ll be pleased to know, I watched these from the comfort of my couch with the gas fireplace blasting!  Ah, warmth.

The four episodes I watched this time around and their price range:

Living Off the Big Island (up to $500K)

From Boston to the Big Island (up to $300K)

Boogie Boarding on Kauai ($600-800K)

Single Mother Shops on Kauai ($400-600K)

The Big Island appears to be a little more affordable than Kauai, Maui, and Oahu.  At least the properties that were shown appeared to be more affordable.

The lower price range houses (under $300K) are fixer uppers.  Some are just update issues but all appear to be livable.  Nothing a few hundred thousand dollars of remodeling couldn’t fix.

Townhouses and condos might have HOA fees as much $511 per month (as we saw in the Boogie Boarding episode).  To be fair, we have condos here in Seattle with crazy high monthly maintenance dues and fees as well.

Much like the southern United States, you also get to deal with bugs and termites.  Home inspections are very important in everything state but in Hawaii, you might run into mold in greater numbers because of the high humidity.  But hold on, the various islands and the location where you are on that island can also influence the mold situation.  Recently, my friend moved from one part of Kauai to another and he ran into the mold issue.

He has lived on Kauai all his life and he has never had to deal with mold.  He moved from a drier area to a wetter area.  More dampness equals more potential for mold.  The house might not have mold in the actual structure but your clothes boxed up and stuck in storage might get a moldy smell to them.  Good airflow is one of the keys to fighting mold.

On a side note: I’m really beginning to hate the show’s tagline “You don’t have to be rich to live in Hawaii; you just have to want it.”  One reason is that whenever the real estate brokers say it, they just look like some stoner surfer dudes.  Forced smiles on their faces.  Oh please.

The “Hawaii Life” show is also just a 22 minute long sales show.  Whoever thought up this reality show was a genius for turning a sales show into a reality show.  It is always the same real estate company and guess what it is called? “Hawaii Life”!  Surprised, huh?

And on an ending note, this is my 200th post!  Yeah me!  I get a gold star!

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